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Leave the tip in cash if you can

I recently read this book called Waiter Rant about a full-time waiter and part-time blogger in NYC. The book hit pretty close to home since I spent what little free time I had available in high school and college working in a restaurant. Granted, I was a cook/manager in an open kitchen-style Italian restaurant, but on occasion I would put on a happy face and grab a server notepad if necessary.

Anyway, there's a part in the book where the waiter/protagonist casually mentions that servers often don't see tips added on by credit or debit cards for weeks since many restaurants disperse these in the form of a paycheck. This wasn't the case at the restaurant I worked at, but it did get me thinking about the pros and cons of such a system. As it turns out, the bad can outweigh the good when it comes to writing in the tip on your server's bill. 

Here are a few reasons you should always tip your server in cash when possible...

-Servers take home their cash tips that night. Credit card tips are a different story, and are often added on to a paycheck that takes a couple weeks to reach their pockets. Unlike an average hourly paycheck, USA Today reports that these tip-heavy checks are often erroneous and inconsistent. In this case, cash is king.

-Ever notice how long it takes a tip to register with your bank? I can think of numerous times where I did my own calculations to determine how much cash I really had in my checking account because of the delay in tips reporting. Keep the guess-work out of it when you tip in cash.

-Eliminate any funny business. If you've ever seen an unfamiliar total charged to your debit or credit account, than you probably know what we mean here. Maybe that server you tipped 15 percent added another 5. Or maybe you've got legitimately sloppy handwriting and the mistake was an honest one. Either way, submitting your tip in paper rather than plastic eliminates errors like these, malicious or otherwise.

Look, the above issues almost never came up during the seven years I worked in the restaurant industry. If I had to speak from personal experience, I would say it's pretty safe to add your tip to a credit or debit card. But the fact of the matter is that mistakes happen everyday, be it accidental or (unfortunately) on purpose. If you'd prefer to just eliminate the issue entirely, carry a little cash around and use it when paying for or tipping at restaurants and bars.

on Thu, 2013-04-25 15:54